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Cem Kaner – My New BFF November 30, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.

Well… It may be a bit early to call him my BFF (Best Friend Forever) but we did have an actual conversation (sort of) on the Writing About Testing Socialtext site.  Here’s the deal.

When you are trying to gain expertise in a particular subject, my strategy includes figuring out “who’s who.” Who’s written books? Who are the most influential people? What specialty areas do they have? What can I learn from them? I’ve been making a list of Who’s Who in the world of Software QA.  It’s been on my To do list for quite some time to flesh it all out and do profile pieces on these people.  The first name that was on that list was Cem Kaner. Being one of the authors of the popular, Testing Computer Software, (and all kinds of other books about Software Test), I had him listed as #1 in my Who’s Who list.  He’s even in Wikipedia!

Cem Kaner was one of the co-founders of the popular AST (Association for Software Testing.) Sadly, I’m a penny-pinching unemployed person, so I don’t currently have a membership. But that’s OK, because I can still learn from him for free at: http://www.testingeducation.org

Check this out:

Black Box Testing Course: Project lead: Cem Kaner. Today, we publish lecture slides, sample exam questions, many worked examples, and background reading papers on testing and on the teaching of testing. We’re always extending these. In addition, we’ve started creating videotaped lectures and will soon start writing multiple-choice questions and other automatically-gradable questions that students can use to check their own knowledge. All these materials are available to students and teachers anywhere in the world, for free.

This is just one of many courses that are available from the site.

As I wrote in a previous blog entry, I inadvertently discovered that CiteULike had noted that my Masters Thesis was in Cem Kaner’s library.  I didn’t really believe this because 1) This thesis is only available as a hard copy from Regis University and 2) I thought it very unlikely that anyone, let alone Cem Kaner, would notice my thesis.  A much more plausible explanation was that the CiteULike entry was generated based on my citing Cem Kaner in the thesis.

I mentioned this anecdote on my Position Statement on the Writing About Testing Socialtext wiki, and, lo-and-behold, Cem Kaner, himself responded, with a three-paragraph explanation which included:

I never got to the point of discovering that you cited my work. My interest was that you were applying “action research” to software engineering. Participatory qualitative research is done so rarely in our field that I wanted to read more. So I marked this as a thesis I wanted to read (but haven’t yet gotten to). I see that a few other researchers have read your work and cited it favorably. I still hope to get to it.

Cem Kaner was engaging in a conversation with me! I hadn’t really planned on networking with the big-wigs until I could be more cerebral. Now was my chance to say something impressive and academic. Instead, I acted like a total teenage groupie telling him I was impressed that he not only noticed my thesis, but was actually commenting to me.  I might as well have said, “OMG! It’s Cem Kaner! Will you be my BFF?”

But that’s OK.  He noticed my very academic thesis and commented on my post.  You can be sure I’ll be talking about how “my buddy, Cem, and I go waay back..” on my next job interview!


The Secret of Agile Speed November 25, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
1 comment so far

Yesterday, I blogged that I wanted to create a “Agile in Plain English”-type of video.  As is typical when I have an idea, when I search the internet, I find it’s already been done, usually exceeding my expectations.  Such is the case with this YouTube video by Rodrigo Coutinho.

I found this, along with 8 other Agile resources on the About Agility Blog Post: Nine Useful Agile Resources.  Good stuff!

Agile in Action – User Stories November 24, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.

Agile Development is all the rage these days, so I’m doing whatever I can to learn it.   There are all kinds of white papers and information, and it all looks pretty straight-forward to me.   Of course, employers all want experience, so I’m volunteering at SnapImpact, a non-profit group that created an iPhone app for volunteerism.  That’s me in the corner with the purple shirt, looking all Boulder-techie and Agile, hoping some employer will see me and say: We must have HER!

I want to create something like “Agile in Plain English” (I love those “in Plain English” little videos put on by commoncraft.)  First I’d start with “User Stories in Plain English.”

User stories are a simplified way of describing user requirements, basically following the format of

As a ___
I want to ___
So that ___

These “user stories” describe WHAT the user wants…not HOW it will be done.  At SnapImpact, we  came up with several user stories from different types of users.  Here are a couple examples of non-profit user stories:

As a nonprofit
I want to make people aware of our opportunities
So that people will volunteer and show up

As a nonprofit
I want to show our good/promote our accomplishments
so that we will get funding

I’m tempted to write a big long commentary about the importance of requirements gathering and then do something witty like creating a requirements document for my life, but I will save that for another day and time.  For now, here’s an article that describes user stories vs. use cases.

And now:

As a person
I want to eat breakfast
so that I’m not hungry


StickyMinds.com Twitter Contest November 23, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.
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I’m drained. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster worrying about my Dad who’s deathly ill.

Now, you’d think I could take a break from blogging, but I seem to be addicted to it. I always have an inbox full of QA newsletters, blog posts etc, so for the next few days, I think I’m just going to pass on some little tidbit, without doing any thinking on my own.

Today’s tidbit comes from an email I got from StickyMinds called a “Mind Alert” that is advertising a StickyMinds.com Twitter Contest.

If you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow us at @StickyMinds. There, you can keep track of industry news, weekly columns, blogs, and other great StickyMinds.com content. In addition, it’s an opportunity for open conversation between the readers and editors of StickyMinds.com and Better Software magazine.

Make sure to let us know on Twitter that you found us on the Mind Alert! Tweet “I found @StickyMinds through Mind Alert” and be entered for a chance to win a StickyMinds.com PowerPass Prize Pack. One winner will be notified this Wednesday, November 25, 2009.

I’m not sure what a StickyMinds.com PowerPass Prize Pack is, but it sounds good.  I’m always game for a free contest.  Perhaps if you Tweet this you can say “I found @StickyMinds through Mind Alert via @yvettef”  (I’m not really much of a tweeter, but I figure it always is good to get more exposure.) Now let’s go win that PowerPass Prize Pack!

Do You Know How to Speak Smurf? November 21, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Today I’m playing around on DeGraeve.com — a very interesting Website, with all kinds of cool apps. I admit this has very little to do with QA, but the “Crapola Web Translator”  (which is what I’m currently experimenting with) includes a way for users to see the known bug list as well as send bugs to the author…interesting and easy way to do informal user testing.


Today I’m smurfing around on DeGraeve.com — a smurfy interesting Website, with all kinds of cool apps. I admit this has smurfy smurfesque to do with QA, but the translator tool (which is what I’m smurfy experimenting with) includes a way for users to smurf the known bug list as well as send bugs to the author…interesting and smurfy way to do informal user testing.

Valley Girl:

Today I’m playing around on DeGraeve.com — a totally interesting Website, with all kinds of cool apps. I admit this has totally little to like, do with QA, but the translator tool (which is like totally what I’m currently experimenting with) includes a way for users to like, see the known bug list as well as send bugs to like, the author…interesting and easy way to like, do informal user testing.


Today I’m playing around on DeGraeve.com — a wicked interestin’ Website, wit all kinds of cool apps. I admit this has wicked little ta do wit QA, but the translatah tool (which is what I’m currently experimentin’ wit) includes a way for usahs ta see the known bug list as well as send bugs ta the author…interestin’ and easy way ta do informal usah testin’.

Ali G

Today I’m playin’ around on DeGraeve.com — a very interestin’ Website, wif all kinds uh cool apps. I admit this gots very little to does wif QA, but duh translato’ tool (which be what I’m currently experimentin’ wif) includes a way fo’ usas to see duh known bug list as well as send bugs to duh autho’…interestin’ an’ easy way to does informal usa testing.

Pig Latin

Odaytay IYAY’m ayingplay aroundyay onyay Egraeveday.omcay — ayay eryvay interestingyay Ebsiteway, ithway allyay indskay ofyay oolcay appsyay. IYAY admityay isthay ashay eryvay ittlelay otay oday ithway AQAY, utbay ethay anslatortray ooltay (ichwhay isyay atwhay IYAY’m urrentlycay experimentingyay ithway) includesyay ayay ayway orfay usersyay otay eesay ethay ownknay ugbay istlay asyay ellway asyay endsay ugsbay otay ethay authoryay…interestingyay andyay easyyay ayway otay oday informalyay useryay estingtay.

Pictures of Joy November 20, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.

I don’t know who ordered all the stress tests on me lately, but I think I can safely say, it’s been affecting the performance and functionality of my program.

In my early days of unemployment, I was performing just fine.  My daily requirements included:

Learn something new
Take a picture each day of something that makes me smile
Enjoy coffee or lunch with someone each day

I enjoyed the long, lazy days of summer with friends and family, taking my daily picture. My functional tests were all performing well.  No bugs were detected, but I still wasn’t getting a job…one of the primary objectives of my program.

Fall brought in the system test, complete with load and stress tests. Life got very busy, cold, dark, and overwhelming. Jobs I felt certain I would get, fell through.  Even though I continued to learn, my other functions stopped performing at all.  I stopped taking my pictures of joy. I stopped going out to lunch or coffee…I didn’t want to spend the money or impose any more on my generous friends.

Yesterday, I learned my father has stage 3 colon cancer. This test just about broke the application completely. In fact, I did suffer from a temporary system crash.  Suddenly jobs and money did not seem important any more.  I had absolutely no function to help my father.  He’s in a hospital bed in California and there’s nothing I can do but wait and hope and pray that he gets better. The last thing I wanted to do was take a “picture of joy.”

But I started up the program again. I went to meet a friend to help her set up her blog. When I told her the news, she gave me a hug, and listened. She pulled out some home-made pasta sauce made with tomatoes from her garden, put on some soothing music, poured me a glass of red wine, and made me an Italian lunch — just like my father would do. And, realizing it was more important than ever, I took my picture of joy.  I realized that is the most important function in my program. No matter how much stress or load on this system, I will not forget to savor the good in life or hold those people that are important to me in my heart.

Life is short. Don’t take it for granted. Take those pictures of joy.

Beautiful Testing – The Beautiful Part November 19, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
1 comment so far

Once there was music in my heart.  Then I met you… and I heard the words.

This quote came from Matthew Heusser’s chapter in the new QA Book, “Beautiful Testing.” It comes at the beginning of a section labeled

Come Walk With Me, The Best is Yet to Be

This phrase is very common and I am unsure of its origins. I believe I first read it in the collected poetry of my grandmother, Lynette Isham. My favorite poem of hers included this line: “Once there was music in my heart. Then I met you…and I heard the words.”

This was about her son, my father, Roger Heusser. I don’t know about testing, but that’s some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. I had to put it in print.

What’s this got to do with testing? Absolutely nothing as far as I can tell. Yet, I loved this.  It was  “Beautiful.”  It really moved me. The quote moved me. The family heritage moved me. The fact that Matthew Heusser felt it was beautiful prose and worthy of being in the book, even though it had nothing to do with QA or Software Test moved me.

Now, of course, there was a lot of stuff in the chapter that was the typical geek-speak mixed with a casual style of narrative, giving a real-life case study of how QA works at SocialText.  It was interesting and informative.  As I was roaming around the internet looking for a photo to use with this post, I found an outline of Beautiful Testing in the making, including the outline of Matt’s chapter. Since I like writing as well as QA, this was interesting to me.  But what interests me most are the people.  I like that this book is a collection of essays because it lets us hear the voice of each of these people. It’s more than just a bunch of text book answers. It includes opinions and insights and creativity.

Some people would say, “Then go read a romance novel or a biography.” But this book isn’t romance or drama. It’s got a lot of great factual information about testing and valuable information about technology trends.  I’ve only read one chapter and the table of contents, but that was enough to tell me that the book is a valuable resource for QA and Software Testers.

If there were no personality in this book the title would probably be “Boring Testing.”  Testing can be beautiful … the creativity and the unique methodologies.  But it’s more than the code and the tests — it’s the people that get excited by the collaboration and the accomplishment. It’s not just the work of art, but the artist that makes something beautiful.

Once there was code on the screen. Then I met the tester and it all worked.

OK. So maybe I need to work on my poetry.

QA Authors November 18, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.

When I talk about the benefits of social media, one of the examples I give is that it’s possible to actually get to know the people who have authored books that you’ve read. I find this fascinating.

I know that authors — especially authors of heavy text books that you lug around in a backpack or get out of the reference section of the library — seem removed from “real life.”  They are these intellectual geniuses that have multiple advanced degrees from ivy-league universities.  You don’t usually put them in the same category as “Facebook Friends.”  But maybe that’s changing!

Yesterday, I blogged that I’d emailed Chris McMahon about his Writing About Testing Conference.   Here was my proposal:

I’ve been exploring the idea about writing a book called “The Social World of QA.” This would cover the latest trends in QA and how we can use social media to tap into the minds of experts all over the world.  I would like to interview some of those experts and have profile pieces that would explore beyond the mechanics of testing, but delve more into the person — Where does their passion for quality come from? What experiences have they had that has brought them to where they are today? What great lessons have they learned both in their career and in life? I would like to summarize some of their expertise, but more importantly, expose a more personal side of the leaders.  I believe blogs are popular because we often can see that human element and that’s what I would like to do with these profile pieces. My hope in coming to the conference would be that it would give me an opportunity to interview these leaders in person and get to know them — the essence of what I’m hoping to do for this book.

I don’t know if I’ll make it to the conference, but Chris invited me to join a Socialtext community about Writing About Testing — a community that includes many of the intellectual authors on my “All Things QA” list!  Then today, after I’d commented on his blog, I was FaceBook friended by one of the authors of the new “Beautiful Testing” book, Matthew Heusser! Cool! I could even throw a virtual snow ball at him! (I won’t don’t do that, though.  I really don’t like those pathetic FaceBook games except for possibly after taking a virtual tequila shot or two..)

More on Socialtext and Beautiful Testing in upcoming blog posts…  Stay tuned…

Writing About Testing November 17, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
1 comment so far

As you may have guessed, based on my frequent blog posts, I like to write.  Well, somehow (I think from Twitter) I was pointed to Chris McMahon’s post about a peer conference : Writing About Testing. This is going to be free in Durango, CO in May, 2010.   This is perfect for me because

  1. I like to write about testing. (Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that I like to write about people, resources, trends, etc. in the world of QA and test.)
  2. I live in Colorado so I can drive to Durango.
  3. Going to free events scores lots of points in the SuperFrug game I made up. (This is a good game to play if you are unemployed or just naturally cheap. I am both.)

However,  this event may have a cap at 15 people and Chris asked for a “position statement.”  Being a relative no-name in the world of writers, I was a bit intimidated by this, but I went ahead and sent Chris an email last week to let him know of my interest.

Since Chris asks for information about previous publications, I told him about the article I’d written in StickyMinds and the thesis I’d written for Regis University about improving software quality.  I knew that the thesis was only available in the University Library, but I searched for it anyway, and look what I found: I’m in Cem Kaner’s library! Now I don’t know anything about this CiteULike site.  I’m sure I must have quoted Cem Kaner in my thesis and perhaps that creates an automatic entry in his library.  But since the paper isn’t available online, I don’t know how that would have happened. I don’t want to ask too many question. All I know is that I am on Cem Kaner’s book-list and I am retaining full bragging rights!

Of course, it’s a bit unfortunate that my name at the time of this masterpiece was Yvette Podlogar. Since going back to my maiden name, Yvette Francino, my writing has consisted primarily of blogs about very non-technical chick-lit-like stuff. But I’m thinking, those QA books really could use a bit of spicing up…  I’m envisioning a whole series about object oriented programming — you could really create a lot of drama with polymorphism, inheritance, and for mature audiences only, the viewing of private parts…  Stay tuned for:

Hidden Secrets: The Code Your Developer Never Told You About

Coming to a book store near you…

Blogging Your Way To Employment November 15, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA, Social Media.

My blog has hit the big time.

A couple of months ago I presented to BoulderNet, a job-seekers network, on how to use Social Media and blogging in the job search.  Katy Piotrowsi, an employment specialist and columnist for the Ft. Collins Coloradoan asked if she might interview me for a future column.

“Of course!” I said, enthusiastically! (I’m all for self-promotion.)

And today, it was published:

Job seeker blogging her way to employment

There are a whole lot of ways a job-seeker can use social networking tools to their advantage.  LinkedIn is particularly helpful.  However, my favorite method of networking has been through this blog.

To be honest, I haven’t gotten a single direct job lead (yet) from writing the blog. But that’s one of the things about networking.  It’s not necessarily a direct way of getting what you are ultimately looking for. You may not even be aware of the benefits until somewhere down the line. For example, when I started blogging, I had no idea that Katy would one day learn about it and write an article. Maybe someone will read that article and find out more about me and offer me a job!

But even if that doesn’t happen, there are all kinds of indirect benefits I’m getting from blogging about QA that I feel certain will lead to a job. In doing the research needed to find content, I have learned a tremendous amount of information and found an amazing number of resources related to QA and Software Test. I’m really starting to know who’s who in the world of QA.  And (this is really cool) I’m actually becoming friends with them! I am gaining enough knowledge and confidence that I know I will do better in interviews. And if I don’t land a job soon, I’m feeling knowledgeable enough to try consulting. Maybe write a book!  When I’m a famous best-selling QA-expert-writer person, you can all say, “And I knew her back when she was an unemployed blogger…”  But that’s all about to change. Yup… The future is looking bright! Let me get my shades on.  I hear the paparazzi knockin’ on my door!